By Anya Tikka
YULAN "Discovered” at the Colgate Country Showdown in Narrowsburg four years ago, 17-year-old Alyssa Startup of Yulan is a budding country singer whose dreams of a musical career are within her grasp.
“There’s a song about every experience I have had,” she said. Alyssa started playing the guitar a couple of years ago, when her brother taught her a few chords, although she’s been singing as long as she can remember.
She’s already met with Blake Chancey of RPM records, one of the top producers in Nashville, Tennessee, and although she hasn’t signed a contract yet, he has a continued interest in her music. Among Chancey’s productions are the Dixie Chicks albums “Wide Open Spaces” and “Fly” that won him Grammies in 1998 and 1999 for Best Country Album.
“Basically, Chancey said once I finish high school, I’ll be a lot older and my voice will be stronger and more mature, and ready for the music industry,” explained Alyssa.
Chancey also advised her she should not take lessons because “It would spoil her voice” that now has its own style.
A senior at Eldred High School, Alyssa’s working toward moving down to Nashville next summer and starting to connect with the producers she met while visiting the country music capital with the full backing of her parents, Ken and Jackie.
It all started to happen when Alyssa took part in the Colgate Country Showdown in Narrowsburg an annual talent contest to find undiscovered country music singers across the United States and met her current producers, Ken and Barry Somerville of Monticello.
The brothers, country music veterans, eventually went on to introduce her to Chancey in Nashville. She met many producers who work under Chancey, and other Nashville musicians, and got to visit the music hot spots.
While in Nashville, Alyssa also met Jimbeau Hinson, another producer with whom she sat down and wrote a song “Tiny Town Girl” on the spot and who continues to be interested in her career. Samples of her music can be found on reverbnation.com under Alyssa Brianne.
“They changed my name,” smiled Alyssa.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” wondered Alyssa aloud over her decision to move to Nashville to try to make it. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll come back and try again. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
She acknowledges it’s all a hit-and-miss in Nashville, all about being in the right place at the right time.
Alyssa pours her heart and soul into her songs that are about everyday life, what happened at school with the mean girls, ‘a guy’, or her parents’ separation.
“Maybe one day I’ll be on stage in Nashville, and I’ll say, this is for you, and you know who you are,” mused Alyssa.
Alyssa described how she puts her songs together: words and music at the same time. “I lock myself in my room, and don’t come out until I have a song,” she smiled. Her role models are Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, and Brad Paisley on the guitar.
“When the light hits me on stage, the adrenaline squirts out, and I give a 110 percent,” said Alyssa about her passion for her music and performing. She said, “People want to be there, they see I’m doing something I love to do”.
Alyssa’s going to be on the Santa Express from Eldred as the Snow Queen on the float on December 10 and 17. She frequently performs in school functions and local events.